High Carb Intake That Starts At Infancy May Have Lifelong Effects

Research using animal models has suggested that starting a high carbohydrate diet early or as part of after birth programs can lead to a lifelong problem with weight gain and obesity. This will become a problem even if caloric intake is restricted for a period of time during adulthood.

Researchers from the University at Buffalo using laboratory animals show that increased carbohydrate intake early after birth can program individuals to overeat and pre-disposes them to become obese later in life. The results were published in the December online issue of American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism. It was a result of more than 20 years of study by UB researchers headed by Mulchand S. Patel, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and Associate Dean for Research and Biomedical Education in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

According to Prof. Patel, “Many American baby foods and juices are high in carbohydrates, mainly simple sugars. Our hypothesis has been that the introduction of baby foods too early in life increases carbohydrate intake, thereby boosting insulin secretion and causing metabolic programming that in turn, predisposes the child to obesity later in life.”

In a rat model of the said study, the researchers gave newborn rat pups special milk formulas developed to become either similar to rat milk with higher fat-derived calories or milk formula enriched with carbohydrate-derived calories.

“These pups who were fed a high-carbohydrate milk formula are getting a different kind of nourishment than they normally would, which metabolically programs them to develop hyperinsulinemia, a precursor for obesity and type 2 diabetes,” explains Prof. Patel.

To avoid metabolic reprogramming that predisposes a baby to obesity later in life, Prof. Patel says that parents should follow the American Academy of Pediatric guidelines, which state that solid foods should not be given before a baby is 4-6 months old. This will help address the obesity epidemic in the US today, which will require a lifestyle change along with permanent caloric restriction.

Source: University at Buffalo (2013, March 19). High-carb intake in infancy has lifelong effects, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 20, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130319144421.htm
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